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Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Social Justice Coalition reflects on progress, room for growth after one year

Just over one year in, the NBA Social Justice Coalition is "an effort that has virtually no precedent," in terms of its "size, scope and aspiration coming from a professional sports league," according to Michael Pina of SI.com. The coalition aims to "affect public policy throughout the country," and wants to "draw awareness toward bills that defang racist systems, then attract potential voters invested in those same causes to sway elections." At the same time, it hopes to "directly influence legislation by engaging elected officials behind the scenes," letting them know "what the NBA, as a collective, thinks." Its board members "hone in on three issues -- police reform, criminal justice and voter suppression," attempting to "forge relationships and pitch as many open-minded lawmakers currently in power as it can." As of now, the coalition’s "impact on the political process is faint, thanks to so much initial focus on national bills." Several coalition board members, political figures and outside advocates "believe a deeper focus on passing state and local laws ... should be a larger priority." Pina wondered, for the league itself, how much engagement is "enough, and what should qualify as a reasonable expectation?" Going forward, the coalition will "ask itself questions that help assess its own productivity." It will use "internal metrics" that detail "how many people are talking about, commenting on and engaging with the issues they’re pushing." The coalition has "already been frustrated in myriad ways," but its existence "signals a potential sea change" (SI.com, 1/17).

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